Not Recipes

How to Make French Toast Without a Recipe

By • September 9, 2013 • 29 Comments

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw gives us the ratio to make any French toast -- with what you have in your pantry.

French Toast from Food52

It's late, you're home, and you're hungry. Your front door feels really far away. You have some stale bread, some eggs, and some dairy.

Or: It's Sunday morning, and your kids are shrieking, and you want to cook something -- something quick! -- that will get them all starry-eyed and quiet and happy.

Or: You're tired of salads and roasted vegetables and even meat and fish and you want something soothing, something easy, and something decidedly un-seasonal for dinner.

In all these cases, and many more: make French toast.

Go check -- you have everything you need. Now, read on!

How to Make French Toast Without a Recipe

1. Get out a pie pan -- it's the best soaking vessel for your bread -- and add your dairy and eggs (I use around 3 egg yolks for every one-and-a-half cups dairy). Use milk, use half and half, use cream, use a combination.

Whisk in around 1 tablespoon of sugar, agave, honey, whatever (or don't!) and any flavorings you'd like -- vanilla extract (or better: scraped vanilla bean) is always a great call, but feel free to go crazy.

French Toast from Food52

 

2. Slice up your day-old bread -- I'm a fan of brioche or challah -- and let it soak in the mixture for fifteen seconds on each side (thirty seconds in total). Make sure your bread is somewhat stale; it will soak up all that good stuff without falling apart.

Once it's out of the bath, let your bread rest on a baking sheet for around two minutes to allow for even custard-soakage within.

French toast from Food52

 

3. Melt some butter in a pan. Once it's nice and runny... 

Melting butter from Food52

 

4. ...get those slices in there! Fry until golden brown on one side, and then flip. Get that other side brown, and, if you're me, drizzle some maple syrup on, right there in the pan. The warmth will get it evenly distributed -- and slightly caramelized.

French Toast from Food5

 

5. Get your toast onto a plate, drizzle with more syrup, and eat. Quickly. Now.

French toast from Food52

Now, what to serve with that French toast? Try these:

The perfect fried egg
Spicy Basil Bloody Marys
Homemade Merguez

How do you make your French toast?

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Tags: breakfast, french toast, how-to & diy

Comments (29)

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5 months ago alia

here is recipe I found gives fuller custard french toast which I prefer (most versions I find dry):

Pain Perdu
4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup/250 ml milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 slices baguette
1 egg

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for caramelizing
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more if needed
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Cherries and blackberries, for serving

Directions

Stir together the milk and vanilla in a shallow dish. Soak the bread slices in the milk mixture for about 5 minutes, turning once so that they absorb the milk evenly.

Beat the egg with the sugar and pour onto a plate.

Heat the butter in a skillet until sizzling. Take the bread from the milk, holding it above the bowl to drain slightly. Dip into the egg mixture to coat both sides, then drop into the sizzling butter and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.

At the last minute, sprinkle the tops with a little extra sugar and "broil" with a blowtorch (or place them on a baking sheet under the broiler until the sugar, melts, bubbles and turns golden).

Divide the bread among serving plates. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dribbling of fresh, ripe cherries and blackberries that have been sauteed in butter and sugar and possibly flamed.
© Recipe courtesy Laura Calder


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5 months ago Diana Brannan

one and a half cups of dairy? I have never used that much, ever. That seems totally unnecessary to me. I can see why you have LOTS left over.

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8 months ago Greg Sidelnikov

What makes this recipe great is the awesome pictures. I have written a recipe for french toast before. I had the same thoughts at first, why bother? But you actually find out the details that are crucial to making not just a french toast but an awesome crispy french toast!

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8 months ago Greg Sidelnikov

on google google

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8 months ago Yolanda Blackwood

I do Italian bread on the cheap and splurge with almond milk - its delicioso!

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9 months ago NJB

I love using Challah bread dipped into eggnog...

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9 months ago I_Fortuna

I take the leftover batter, add flour and save it for a dessert crepe in the morning. Easy breakfast. I like mine eggy.

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10 months ago djgibboni

Really? People use a recipe for French toast?

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11 months ago thedomesticb

Something that has always bothered me about making french toast is throwing away the milky, eggy mixture goodness. Are there any brilliant ways to re-use the dairy bath after soaking the bread?

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11 months ago Moe Rubenzahl

After I put the slices in the pan, I drizzle the leftover liquid onto the surface, just a bit. But really, it's a total of 25 cents worth of stuff, hardly worth saving.

In the past, I have used it to make kind of a scrambled egg but it's not very good.

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11 months ago Jeremy Pepper

There was a deli in Phoenix that used to cut the challah corner in a diagonal and then fry the pieces. Amazingly not healthy and amazing at the same time.

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11 months ago Janice Davis Prytz

That's about how I've done it for over 50 years. The main difference I use a dry griddle, just like when I make pancakes.

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11 months ago @JuliaMoskin

Why only egg yolks?

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11 months ago DrGaellon

I like mine a bit eggier; I use about 1/2 cup dairy to two eggs. I also dry the bread out in a cool oven (250F) for 15-20 minutes. Stale bread is NOT dry; the water is bound into starch crystals, but is still there, so stale bread doesn't absorb the royale as well as truly dry bread. And savory French toast (add some Parmesan cheese and chopped oregano) is amazing.

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11 months ago nan marie

Never toss stale croissants..bag the, freeze them. When in need of a really french toast fix- slice them cold and dip in your favorite egg/ dairy mix and serve with a mashed berry mix..might not even need a syrup! Yummy!

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11 months ago thewanderingappetite

Any ideas for replacing the eggs to make a vegan French toast??

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11 months ago Laura415

Soaked Chia seeds or similar ground up seeds can give the gelatinous texture of eggs, but probably won't work anything like eggs for flavor or the way it browns. Could turn out pallid and not brown well. I'd use something thick and creamy for the milk (like coconut milk) to make up for the loss of eggs. I would for sure add some sugar or honey and spices to help with color since you'll lose all the color of eggs, butter and cream.

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11 months ago Mae

Make a "flax egg." 1 egg = 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water. Let the mixture sit for a minute or two after stirring it, and it becomes the consistency of eggs. Doesn't taste the same as eggs, but it works in almost every way that eggs do (baking, batters, etc). You can buy whole flax seeds and grind them with a coffee grinder, or buy them already ground (flax seed meal). Keep the ground seeds in the freezer to keep them fresh (whole seeds last longer). A staple in any vegan kitchen!

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11 months ago Mae

I've also heard of people using bananas

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11 months ago Steph D

Isa Chandra of the Post Punk Kitchen has a "Fronch Toast" recipe that calls for soy creamer and chickpea flour. I've never tried it but people seem to enjoy... others have subbed tapioca flour for the chickpea too. Google "Fronch toast vegan" and it should pop up.

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11 months ago Mark Oviatt

If you add cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices, add them to the eggs first and whip. THEN add milk and other ingredients. This way the spices don't "raft". (Tip of the hat to Alton Brown. It works.)

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11 months ago Brette Warshaw

Great tip! Thanks!

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11 months ago Demington

I have made French toast since I was small. I have never seen a recipe for French toast!

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11 months ago Moe Rubenzahl

That worked. I have my bread soaking right now and French Toastage will proceed forthwith.

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11 months ago suzy pingree

I love savory stuff for breakfast, so no sugar or honey, but I add chopped rosemary and thyme, and I use my husband's day old sourdough bread. Instead of syrup, we use avocado slices.

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11 months ago Brette Warshaw

Sounds awesome!